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Fabulous Holiday Gifts for the Linux Geek

written by: Maitraya K B•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 10/19/2011

Need to give your geeky Linux friend a cool gift this holiday, maybe stuffed penguins or uber-cool t-shirts? Or perhaps you want to buy computer hardware which is fully compatible with Linux. You've come to the right place. Here, we suggest a list of Linux ready gifts for the holiday season.

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    I Love Linux

    There's no doubt about it, if you are reading this you are probably a very devoted Linux user or the person whom you want to send a gift is a Linux geek. So you've decided to gift someone (probably very special) with something Linux related? Let me tell you that in our open source world, anything which you can imagine is available. From Ubuntu shaped cakes to Tux shaped cookies, from high-end laptops to Linux compatible graphics cards, almost everything can be bought online. All you need is some patience and some time (to search for the products on a search engine).

    If you want to speed up the process and skip the searching, read on.

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    Compatible Hardware

    Keep in mind that most modern hardware works well with Linux. In fact, Ubuntu or Fedora has never failed to detect any of my PC hardware. Even the proprietary graphics driver and the wireless drivers installed with a breeze. However, you may not be as lucky as I have been. Therefore it is recommended to search for Linux compatible hardware before you plan on making a purchase. Many sites on the internet maintain a list of computer hardware which is compatible with a particular Linux variant. Ubuntu has a hardware certification program which lists Ubuntu certified or 100% compatible hardware.

    At present, there are more than 90 certified Dell laptops (including models from the Inspiron and Latitude series). Besides Dell, the website lists servers from IBM and Intel, products from Toshiba, Asus, Acer, Wipro, HCL, HP, Sun and many others. Find out more from the official website.

    You must also check out H-node, which maintains a list of hardware compatible with Linux. This was previously maintained by the FSF on their website but now the information has been moved to H-node.

    Besides this, OpenSUSE, Mandriva and RedHat maintain lists of compatible hardware. I'm quite sure you'll find what you need.

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    Fully Compatible Laptops

    A System76 laptop Many companies sell manufactured hardware pre-installed with Linux. As such, you can consider their hardware to be fully compatible with Linux. Manufacturers like Dell and System76 sell pre-installed Ubuntu hardware. Both Dell and System76 have beautiful laptops pre-installed with Ubuntu. Some other manufacturers include EmperorLinux, Linux Certified, LinPC, Think Penguin, Zareason.

    If you have loads of money to spend on a gift and like vintage items, you should take a look at the Ubuntu powered steam-punk laptop.

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    Commercial/Proprietary Software and Games

    Linux games Linux has evolved greatly as a platform and just like Open Source software, various high-quality proprietary software is available for the system. If you are using Ubuntu, many of them are available for purchase from the Ubuntu Software Center. These software are also available for purchase from the developer's website and many of these websites allow you to buy gift tokens for friends and family. You can either buy the software directly but I would advise you to buy a gift token if available. For instance, the Humble Indie Bundle games occasionally release a set of games which are available for gift purchase. Some excellent commercial games are available for Linux among which my personal favorites include World of Goo, Steel Storm, Penumbra, Braid, Doom 3, Machinarium and many others.

    Linux also has a wide range of commercial software from simple utility based programs to professional audio-video editing software , some of the best include Autodesk Softimage, Houdini, MARI, Fluendo Media Center, NUKE, Fluendo DVD Player.

    There are many sites which list commercial software. Check out Lin-App.com if you want to buy proprietary software.

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    Goodies!

    Stuffed Tux If you are a Linux user, you've just got to love a stuffed penguin. If gifting hardware or commercial software to friends is not your thing, you might want to check out the tons of cool goodies that are available throughout the internet (Canonical store, FSF store, eBay and the like). Let's look at some of the best things you could gift:

    1. T-shirts: T-shirts can be good gifts, especially if they have catchy phrases on them. In many cases, when you buy a T-shirt from a web shop, you contribute to the Linux world in some way (for instance, buying from the FSF store supports the organization). T-shirts also help in popularizing Linux (believe me, we need a lot of publicity at the moment). If you are a Free Software enthusiast or are concerned about software freedom, you might want to buy something like a GPLv3 T-shirt or maybe a No-DRM T-shirt. Check out the GNU gear section of the FSF website for more products like these. I am an Ubuntu user and personally have a soft spot for the lovely Ubuntu Polo T-shirt available from the Canonical store (In case you didn't know, Canonical are the official sponsors of Ubuntu). Similarly, there are various web-stores which sell good at reasonable prices. A Google search should give you all the answers you need.
    2. Stuffed toys: Meant for children, they often amuse adults too. Plus, a stuffed penguin is something every Linux fanboy should keep on his computer desk. ZaReason has stuffed Tuxes on sale, you may consider buying one. If not, you can always gift a stuffed gnu.
    3. XKCD goodies: This could have been kept in the T-shirts section but I find XKCD extremely cool and exceptionally geeky. For those who do not know, XKCD is a web comic with a dedicated fanbase (which consists of a lot of Linux users). The web comic mentions Linux quite often and some of the comic strips are quite catchy. Assuming that you want to buy the gift for a geek, you must check out their store. If you want to buy a T-shirt, try the hilarious sudo strip shirt based on comic #149.
    4. Other cool stuff: There are various other things you could gift others, from stickers, branded caps to badges and if nothing else a Kubuntu pen! If you are an Ubuntu fan, the Canonical store has loads of goodies including coffee mugs, notebooks, bags, USB keys, mouse mats and laptop sleeves. Check it out.
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    That's About it!

    That's basically all I can tell you right now. If you are going to buy hardware, go through the certified lists carefully before making a purchase. System76 laptops are quite good, so you may consider giving your friend one of those. If nothing else, a T-shirt with a web comic, screaming "I'm a geek!", is usually a good gift.